You had a procedure to insert a ventricular assist device (VAD). This device replaces the pumping action of your heart. Usually, a VAD is inserted as a bridge to a later heart transplant, but doctors have also found that a VAD gives the heart a chance to rest and recover. In some cases, the heart is able to resume some normal activity, which may eliminate the need for a heart transplant. For some people who are not candidates for a heart transplant, the VAD is considered permanent. Here's what you need to know about home care.
Don't lift, pull, or push anything heavier than 10 pounds during the first 6 weeks after your surgery.
Shower with care. Your VAD has an air vent and a filter. Keep fluid away from these AT ALL TIMES.
Don't swim or play any water sports. No boating, hot tubs, or taking baths.
Your VAD is a very special device. It needs a special team to help you with care. Always know who this team is and how to reach the coordinator.
Keep the following near you at all times:
A hand pump (to use if the power supply of your device fails)
Hospital's paging number for the VAD coordinator heart transplant coordinator
Backup power pack with charged batteries
Test your system every day.
Make sure your family or someone in your home knows how to change the power supply and care for your device.
The power company will need to be notified to place you on a priority list to have your power restored first in case of a power outage. Your VAD coordinator can assist you with this. It should be done prior to your discharge from the hospital.
Carry an ID card that identifies your device.
Take your temperature every day. Call your doctor or your VAD coordinator if it is above 100°F (37.8°C).
Change the device filter according to the directions you were given before you left the hospital. If you did not receive directions, ask for them.
Take your medications exactly as directed. Don't skip doses.
Eat a healthy diet. Ask your doctor for menus and other diet information.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
Fever above 100°F (37.8°C)
Signs of infection at your device's exit site (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth)
Device alarm sounds
Fatigue that doesn't get better
Dizziness that doesn't go away
Shortness of breath
Swollen hands, feet, or ankles